Pico Ruivo

Pico Ruivo

At 1,862 metres above sea level, Pico Ruivo (translated as "Red Mountain") is the highest peak in Madeira and the third highest mountain in Portugal.

Occasionally, you may see the name Pico Ruivo de Santana extended to refer to the district where it lies.

There is a stone viewing platform built on the summit with 360° views, where in good visibility you can see across Madeira. Often, however, Pico Ruivo is above the clouds and you can enjoy the spectacle of the surrounding peaks rising out of the clouds. Clouds are slightly more likely in the afternoon.

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Just below the summit is a hiker's lodge with refreshments and a free water source.

Ascent of Pico Ruivo - route options

Access to the summit is possible from 4 sides. The shortest one is about 5.5 km (there and back together), the longest one is over 20 km.

Let's take a look at a more detailed description of the variants ordered from shortest to longest. Whichever route you choose, wear sturdy shoes, pack at least a rain jacket and have plenty of water!

Achada do Teixeira (car park) - Pico Ruivo

The shortest and most comfortable route is from the car park at the top of Achada de Teixeira hill. It is about 2.8 km long in one direction and is all along a well-maintained footpath. Although it is the most "boring" of all the trails, it still offers beautiful views of the surrounding mountains. This route is the easiest.

  • Distance - 2.8 km one way
  • Time - approx. 1.5 hours there + 1 hour back
  • Difficulty - easy
  • Route map

The car park at 1590 metres is reached by car on a normal road from the village of Santana in the north-east of Madeira, there is no charge for parking. You cannot get here by bus.

Pico do Arieiro - Pico Ruivo (PR1)

The ridge climb from the 1,818-metre-high Pico do Aireiro is the most popular route option and, in our opinion, the most beautiful.

The route follows the marked PR 1 trail for its entire length, it is groomed and has the character of a stone walkway, however there are some more challenging passages.

In any case, this route should be manageable for the average trained hiker. Along the way, you will get some otherworldly views of the mountains and valleys, the path is even carved into pedestrian tunnels in some places and winds up steep slopes. The vast majority of the route is secured with railings where needed.

  • Distance - 5.3 km one way
  • Time - approx. 3.5 hours there + 3.5 hours back
  • Difficulty - moderate to hard
  • Route map

There is a large free car park and restaurant at the start of the route to Pico do Areeiro. You can't get here by bus.

Vereda da Ilha (PR1.1)

The Tasa with the village of Ilha is very challenging with a lot of elevation gain. With good physical condition it can be done in one day.

It leads steadily uphill, first through a beautiful forest, then with breathtaking views of the mountains.

The start of the route is near the stop of the number 103 bus running from Funchal, Santana and Sao Jorge, however the timetable is set so that you won't be able to make it back in one day (the ascent and descent combined would have to take less than 7 hours, which is at the limits of ability).

  • Distance - 7.6 km one way
  • Time - approx. 5.5 hours there + 2.5 hours back
  • Difficulty - difficult to extreme
  • Route map

Boca da Encumeada - Pico Ruivo (PR21)

The most difficult route if you want to do it without overnighting.

It offers a comprehensive hiking experience through a beautiful landscape of mountains, ravines, gorges and deep wooded valleys. It starts at Boca da Encumeada, Madeira's highest road saddle (1,009 metres), where bus line 6 (Funchal - Arco Sao Jorge) runs once a day.

There is a large free car park and 2 cafés.

  • Distance - 10 km one way
  • Time - approx. 6.5 to 7.5 hours there + 5 hours back
  • Difficulty - extreme (overnight stay required)
  • Route map

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